As I reflect on this week, I truly feel like jumping for joy. The milestones that God has helped me reach the past several days used to seem impossible. They are all things that used to make me restless at night, filling my mind with a flurry of fear…things that used to make me dread growing up. If growing up meant that I would have to start advocating for myself more and communicating independently, I was intensely afraid of it. Recently though, God has been using some new experiences to completely change my perspective. Growing up can also be bright with hope and abounding with new joys. A few days ago as I was driving to a doctor’s appointment, alone with my thoughts and gazing at the open road before me, all I could think about was how drastically—and how beautifully—my life is suddenly changing. (For one thing, I still can’t get over how strange it feels to drive myself places. Since I’ve only had my license since March, the feeling is still extremely new to me. Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable driving around all by myself! 🙂 ) However, there are several other things I experienced for the first time this week in particular that reminded me how exciting entering a new chapter of life can really be. New opportunities, new friendships, and new growth lie just over the horizon.
Last Monday, I walked into my room, closed the door, and took several deep breaths as I quietly asked God to please give me courage. Finally, I reached for my phone, inhaled deeply once more, and dialed a number. For the first time in my life, I was scheduling my own appointment over the phone. Now, at eighteen years old, I know that I am a little behind in taking this step. Most teenagers have probably already done this by sixteen; but living with a stutter often transforms simple, ordinary tasks into huge milestones to reach. One of the best ways for me to cope is taking things one day at a time and being okay with moving forward in life a little slower, as long as I keep moving. The phone has struck terror into me for as far back as I can remember, much less using the phone to call total strangers. When I did stutter slightly, the lady I spoke to was so kind and patient that it was as if nothing even happened. As soon as we hung up, a huge smile crept across my face as my heart sang in celebration. I did it! I finally did it! And it’s all because of you, Lord.
Although it has become a cliche to say that few things are ever as scary or even as impossible as we imagine them to be in our minds, this statement is remarkably accurate. Talking on the phone was certainly unsettling, but not nearly as much as I had envisioned. Something about it actually made me incredibly happy, and I really enjoyed speaking with the individual on the other side. Conquering that fear filled my heart with such sweet peace afterwards and kindled a new hope in me for the future. Taking the leap is scary…but as someone once said, “If you don’t leap, you’ll never know what it’s like to fly.” To be honest, I think I felt like flying after that phone call!
Two days later, I went to my appointment on my own…another milestone. When I pulled into the parking lot, I again felt so much gratitude to God for how far He has brought me. I could have never conjured up enough courage in myself to face the world on my own. There are no words to quantify how frightening it can be for someone who stutters to ponder the prospect of communicating in the real world, away from the support of your family and friends. As much as I wish they could all be with me every day, sadly, life does not allow us to always be surrounded by our loved ones. But as I spoke with the sweet receptionist at the desk, it was hard to keep myself from smiling from ear to ear. In that moment, I realized how much I had been longing for this kind of interaction with others. In the past (and I still do sometimes), I had run from any interactions that might reveal my stuttering, because I just didn’t know how strangers would react. Now that I had finally taken this step, I could have spent hours talking to everyone in that office.
Just a few weeks ago, I had a very difficult emotional breakdown about my stuttering. Tears streamed down my face as I cried out to God to give me strength to accept His will. Times like that will probably continue to happen, but that does not mean that I am not still unbelievably thankful for this journey ahead of me. In fact, I don’t think that I have ever been so excited about life. God is proving Himself good and faithful over and over again, and every day is a beautiful mystery filled with new gifts.
Overwhelming is the only way to describe God’s goodness in helping me through every step of my life. He is the Creator of the universe, yet He sets His heart upon sinful man and cares about our afflictions, whether physical or spiritual. Isn’t this amazing?
I hope these precious verses will encourage you in whatever you may be facing this week, as you remember the overwhelming goodness of our Heavenly Father:
“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” ~Psalm 34:17-19
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” ~Psalm 8:3-4